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De-stressing Your Vacation Part 1 – Overcoming Jet Lag

De-stressing Your Vacation, Part 1 – Overcoming Jet Lag

the jetlag society by Flickr user Paul Keller

Are you a member? Image credit: Flickr user Paul Keller

You’ve likely experienced that compilation of symptoms that hits us like a hammer to the head as we step from the plane onto the exit ramp: fatigue, grogginess, decreased coordination, insomnia, and maybe even a little mild depression. Jet lag is a result of the body’s internal circadian (daily) rhythms being out of sync with external time, and it happens as a result of traveling across time zones. (A similar thing happens with changing shift work schedules.) Hormones such as cortisol (an adrenal hormone that controls the stress response) and melatonin (a hormone from the pineal gland that affects sleep) rise and fall at certain times of the day or night. When the external light-dark cycle changes abruptly, these daily rhythms get out of sync and can send our bodies into a tailspin.

A recent study showed that the adrenal clock is critical in these circadian rhythms, and that it is the timing of adrenal hormone release that regulates resynchronization after transmeridian (across time zone) travel. The researchers found that when the adrenals are compromised, it takes longer for the body to reset its internal clock. 1

departures by Flickr user Raymond June

Crossing time zones can leave you feeling zoned out. Image credit: Flickr user Raymond June

Another group of researchers looked at the effect of stress on the ability to adapt to circadian rhythm changes. They found that it took an average of 20-30% longer for stressed animals to recover from a light-dark shift change than non-stressed animals.2 Together, these studies illustrate the importance of adrenal hormones on responding to the challenges of traveling across time zones. Either compromised adrenals or stress on healthy adrenals can hamper the body’s ability to adapt to time zone changes.  By supporting the adrenals and stress response system before and during travel, you may be able to reduce the symptoms and duration of jet lag.

Some things you can do to overcome jet lag:

  1. Get plenty of rest before you begin your travels. Rest and restorative sleep are some of the best ways to support your adrenals and stress response system.
  2. A few days before you leave, begin shifting your bed time and wake up time closer to those of your destination.
  3. Consider exposure to a light box or natural light when you wake to reset your internal clock.
  4. Support your adrenals throughout the trip, especially first thing in the morning when your natural production of cortisol is highest. Nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C and E help produce the hormones you need to handle stress, while herbs such as ashwagandha, eleutherococcus, and maca support your body during stress.
  5. Keep your blood sugar stable by eating moderate portions of healthy foods frequently. Letting your blood sugar drop requires the body to secrete a great deal of the stress hormone cortisol to bring your blood sugar back into balance.
  6. Have fun and let go of perfection. Allowing yourself to adapt to whatever the trip might bring instead of insisting it go a certain way reduces your stress and supports your stress response system.
  7. Go play! Moderate activity is a great stress release. Just remember to listen to your body and don’t overdo with a “weekend warrior” type attitude.

Continue to part 2 – Avoiding Travel-related Illness

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

References:

  1. Kiessling S, Eichele G, Oster H. Adrenal glucocorticoids have a key role in circadian resynchronization in a mouse model of jet lag. J Clin Invest. 2010 Jul;120(7):2600-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI41192. Epub 2010 Jun 23.
  2. Mohawk JA, Lee TM. Restraint stress delays reentrainment in male and female diurnal and nocturnal rodents. J Biol Rhythms. 2005 Jun;20(3):245-56.

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Adrenal Fatigue and Lifestyle: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Separating the Good from the Bad and the Ugly

It is important to be able to distinguish which things in your life are contributing to your health and which things are detracting from it. A good first step in helping yourself obtain a lifestyle you love is to make a list of all the things that are helping and hurting your life and health. To help you get clear on this I use the following very simple but informative exercise:

Here's an example of a Good for Me / Bad for Me chart

Here's an example of a Good for Me / Bad for Me chart (click chart for larger view)

1. Take a piece of paper, date it and draw a vertical line down the center. At the top of the left column put “good for me” and at the top of the right column put a “bad for me.” In the “good” column list all the things that you feel contribute to your health and well-being. These can be physical or leisure activities, exercises, relationships, work, family, attitudes and anything else that makes you feel good and contributes to your sense of well-being. Note: Do not list things that “should” be good for you, or which you do not really find pleasurable or beneficial. Do not idealize and put what ought to be good for you.

2. In the “bad” column, list everything that seems detrimental to your health and well-being. Again, they can be anything you are doing or are involved with that is not good for you. If some aspects of a situation are good and some bad, separate them out. For example: you may have a job that you love, but the grueling hours and the fast pace are exhausting. In this case you put your job in the “good” column and the excess hours and high pressure demands in the “bad” column.

Use as many sheets of paper as you need. Take as much time as necessary. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 sessions. There is no maximum or minimum number of items to put in either column. Keep in mind there is no pass or fail, no right or wrong answers. The more forthcoming you can be with information, the more you can help yourself.

Repeating the Good and Eliminating the Bad (and the Ugly)

check mark and x mark3. Now, review each column and then circle the five most significant entries in each column. Rank each of those five from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least.

4. Now go back to the top 5 in the “bad” column. Identify exactly what about these items is so hard on you. Select the worst one from the “Bad” column (the one you ranked #1), and commit to eliminating this item from your life. Devise a plan for accomplishing this and the date by which it will be done.

5. After you have eliminated its negative influence on you, go to #2 on your “Bad” list and do the same. Continue until the first 5 have been eliminated or rendered powerless in your life. If you get stuck, stay focused and try different approaches. If you find it’s something you truly cannot eliminate from your life, “reframe” the item and think of how you can use it to your advantage.

6. Now go to the “Good” column. Note the five things you have circled.

See how you can do more of the five things you have circled, or things similar to them. The idea is to have more and more good things in your life as you eliminate or render powerless the negative ones, tipping the balance in favor of a life you love to live.

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How Dr. Wilson’s Supplement Quartet Helps Support Adrenal Fatigue and Stress

The adrenal glands must respond to every stress by producing hormones that enable the body to react to the stressor and maintain homeostasis. Hormones released by the adrenal glands affect every cell and system in the body. Healthy adrenals and adrenal hormone production are essential to overall good health, as well as the ability to handle stress. The four expertly formulated supplements in Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Quartet provide nutrients, plant extracts and natural building blocks that support optimal adrenal structure and function.

Each of these four products enhances different aspects of adrenal health. When taken together, they provide comprehensive adrenal support, according to the guidelines in Dr. Wilson’s Program for Adrenal Fatigue.

Adrenal RebuilderAdrenal Rebuilder® is the cornerstone supplement of Dr. Wilson’s program. The Rebuilder contains a balanced blend of glandular tissue concentrates from glands involved in the stress response. These concentrates are in their natural form but processed to remove hormones, providing fundamental support to a stress-depleted body, and help fortify and revitalize healthy structure and function in the adrenals and other endocrine glands affected by stress.

Super Adrenal Stress FormulaSuper Adrenal Stress Formula® contains the specific vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy hormone production. These nutrients are released in an integrated sustained release format that allows them to be gradually absorbed for maximum absorption. Super Adrenal Stress Formula provides a precise combination of nutrients your adrenal glands need to help promote normal adrenal hormone production and adrenal function so you can stay energized and healthy, even when stress is chomping at your heels.

Herbal Adrenal Support FormulaHerbal Adrenal Support Formula® is a liquid herbal composed of four organically grown herbs known as adaptogens (natural, non-toxic substances that act in the body to support normal function). These herbs work together to support adrenal gland function and mechanisms that control the stress response. Optimum function of the adrenals and HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis promotes sound sleep, steady energy levels and sense of calm, and helps maintain hormone levels during and after menopause.

Adrenal C FormulaAdrenal C Formula® is designed to meet the increased needs for vitamin C during stress or adrenal fatigue. Stress rapidly uses up vitamin C, especially in the adrenal glands. This unique complex provides high quality nutrition to optimize vitamin C activity and support adrenal health, plus specific minerals that buffer and reduce the acidity of vitamin C, making it gentle on sensitive digestive systems. The sustained release format allows the ingredients to be gradually absorbed to optimize absorption and minimize loss through excretion.

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Effects of hysterectomy on adrenal glands & Handling stress through rotating shifts and travel

letter QWhat’s the effect on the adrenal glands when a woman has a total hysterectomy and the ovaries are removed? I am asking specifically about women after menopause.

A total hysterectomy is the removal of the entire uterus, as opposed to a partial letter Ahysterectomy which is the removal of only a portion of the uterus. In either case, the ovaries remain intact and continue to function and produce estrogen. An oophorectomy is the removal of the ovaries (the glands which produce estrogen in a woman’s body) and is sometimes, but not always, done at the same time as a hysterectomy.

In the case of either natural menopause or an oophorectomy (“surgical menopause”), the ovaries no longer make estrogen, but small amounts continue to be produced by the adrenal glands and the fat cells. In addition, the adrenals produce other hormones which can be converted by fat, muscle, and breast tissue into estrogens. However, the amount of estrogens circulating in a woman’s body after menopause is much lower than the amount circulating in her body prior to menopause.

letter QDo you have any advice for someone who works rotating shifts? I am a police officer and we rotate days/nights every 2 months. I NEVER feel good. and Can you travel through different timezones when you have adrenal fatigue? If yes, how do you prepare?

letter Afemale cop by Flickr user MikeSchinkelRotating shifts and traveling through different time zones are hard on the body because many hormones have daily cyclical patterns that are related to light and dark and affect the sleep/wake cycle. For example: cortisol, one of the primary adrenal hormones, typically reaches its highest level during early morning, then falls throughout the rest of the day to reach its lowest level in the middle of the night. In contrast, melatonin—a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that assists sleep—rises at night. However, changing shifts and time zones disrupt the normal rhythms of these hormones.  This is why it takes most people a few days to adjust. If your adrenals and/or stress response system are compromised, it will be significantly more difficult to adapt to these types of changes. In addition, these time changes are stressors themselves and put increased demand on your stress response system.

Some of the best things you can do to help your body adapt to the change are the things we’ve mentioned over and over to support your nervous system and adrenals:

-Get enough rest
-Eat nutritious foods
-Keep your blood sugar stable by avoiding sugary foods or skipping meals
-Avoid stimulants
-Get the proper nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium
-Use adaptogens—herbs which help the body deal with stress and adapt to change—such as ashwaganda, maca, and eleutherococcus

In addition to this, there are some specific things you can do to help your body adapt to the new sleep schedule:

downward dog yoga pose•Begin to relax and do quiet activities about an hour before bed to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that helps you relax) using things like warm baths, massage, or yoga.

•Avoid television and computers for at least an hour before bedtime and keep your sleeping area very dark. Light (especially light shining directly in your eyes) shuts off the body’s production of melatonin.

•Keep your sleeping area comfortably cool. Sleep is associated with a lowered body temperature.

•Consider sitting under a full spectrum light for 30 minutes when you wake. This helps to reset the circadian (daily) rhythm.

•Keep a note pad by your bed. If your brain has difficulty turning off at your new bedtime and bombards you with concerns and “to dos,” you can write them down to deal with later and allow your mind to relax.

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

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Is Taking Cortisol a Safe Way to Treat Adrenal Fatigue?

letter QIs Isocort a safe way to treat my adrenal fatigue? I have been self-treating for over a year now, and I get ahead and then life issues, (surgery, stress, job stress) kick me back down. I have not wanted to treat with any kind of cortisol for fear of making my adrenals shut down, but I don’t feel that I am getting anywhere with supplements. I am on Dr. Wilson’s tincture of ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, maca and licorice right now. I think I am allergic to one of the ingredients because I had an itchy rash while taking it, and when I went off, it went away. I would appreciate any suggestions on safely treating with Isocort, or other form of cortisol. 

letter AThere are some cases in which giving cortisol temporarily and then weaning off of it appropriately may help adrenal fatigue if given in conjunction with supplements which support your body’s stress response system. It is important to note this should be done under the watchful care of a healthcare professional. However, I do not recommend using cortisol alone (either plant based or synthetic), and I recommend extreme caution in using it at all, especially if you are not under the care and supervision of a medical professional.

thermostat by Flickr user super-structureThe body has a very complex system of checks and balances to maintain appropriate hormone levels. One way it does this is through a signaling process called negative feedback. Negative feedback occurs when an optimal level of hormone is reached and the hormone “feeds back” this information to the brain to turn off production. It works sort of like a thermostat that turns off the heater once a certain temperature is reached. If you take hormones, they can send this negative feedback signal to turn off the body’s own production and can eventually shut down the glands’ ability to produce hormone at all. (This is why men’s testes can shrink when they take anabolic steroids).

Taking cortisol may increase your energy and make you feel better in the short term, but that doesn’t mean that it is helping your body heal. (Many people feel better and more energized taking amphetamines, but I don’t think that provides a good medical rationale to take speed.) Taking cortisol alone does nothing to support the adrenal glands to make their own cortisol or to heal. A healthier approach is to give the adrenals the building blocks they need to regenerate, the nutrients they need to synthesize hormones, herbs to help support the body during stress, and antioxidants to protect the adrenals from damage as they produce the hormones. The herbal tincture you mentioned does one part of that (helping the body adapt to stress). You may be able to find the herbs individually and eliminate the one that is causing your problems.

In treating adrenal fatigue, I recommend a complete lifestyle and treatment approach: eliminating sources of stress and learning healthy ways of dealing with it, eating regular nutrient dense meals to prevent blood sugar fluctuations, getting sufficient rest and moderate exercise, and nutritionally supporting the body and the adrenals in their recovery rather than simply taking a hormone which could make you feel better temporarily but has the potential to create more problems in the future.

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

Image credit: Thermostat by Flickr user super-structure

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Why Does Adrenal Fatigue Give Me a Racing Feeling?

Q: My cortisol levels are finally normal after several years of being quite low. However, it’s taking my body much longer to regain strength and i still “race” inside all the time. What exactly is going on physiologically when i race? It increases with stress, being overtired and food reactions?

A: To answer your question I need to explain a little bit about the anatomy and physiology of the adrenal glands. The adrenals are two small glands that secrete a large number of hormones, most of which are designed to help the body meet the demands of stress in one way or another. Stress is a broad term and may be mental or physical, including such things as illness, food sensitivities, extreme physical exertion, being overly tired or overly hungry, or feeling emotionally “stressed out.”

racing terriers by Flickr user garryknight

Does adrenal fatigue and stress give you that racing feeling?

The adrenal glands have two primary layers: an outer layer, called the cortex; and an inner layer, the medulla. Each layer is responsible for secreting different hormones. Cortisol, the primary hormone responsible for the body’s stress response, is one of the hormones secreted by the cortex. Adrenal fatigue is characterized by the inability to secrete enough cortisol to meet demand when the body is under stress.

The medulla, or inner portion of the adrenal glands, secretes other hormones, including epinephrine and norepinephrine (also called adrenaline and noradrenaline). These are secreted under stress as well and help create the familiar “fight or flight” response in which heart rate increases, airways open, and blood is shunted to skeletal muscles.

If a person has adrenal fatigue and cannot secrete sufficient cortisol levels under stress (which can occur even after cortisol levels have returned to normal levels at rest), the body will still secrete more epinephrine and norepinephrine (sometimes in even greater quantities), inducing the familiar racing heart and associated symptoms.

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

Image credit: Racing terriers by Flickr user garryknight

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Using Glandular Extracts for Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

fatigued adrenal glandsI saw early in my clinical work that most people suffering from adrenal fatigue need more than just lifestyle changes and alterations in their food intake. Normally, good quality food is the best source of these nutrients, but once depleted, the adrenals need more than diet alone is likely to provide. I found, clinically, that supplementing with specific concentrated nutrients markedly increased my patients’ ability to strengthen adrenal function and recover their health.

I began using adrenal extracts with my patients with adrenal fatigue and found that they slowly improved over time, but their progress was too slow for my liking, no matter which adrenal concentrate they took. However, by combining concentrated, hormone-free extracts of the glands most involved in the stress response, we were able to achieve much better outcomes than we had using them singly. I started adding specific nutrients one at a time, and through trial and error discovered that most people suffering from adrenal fatigue and similar stress related health problems need much more of some nutrients than others. As nutrient after nutrient was added, people began responding and recovering more and more quickly, and then recovering more fully. Over time, it became apparent that most people with adrenal fatigue need the same nutrients, only varying in quantity depending upon severity. The more severe the adrenal fatigue, the more of these specific nutrients they needed to sustain themselves, function well and recover fully. The glandular extracts work so deeply that it usually takes several weeks, or even months, to notice their effects, but these effects are profound and form the foundation for lasting results.

All of our glandular extracts come from natural-feed pigs. Obtaining these extracts from a porcine (pig) rather than bovine (cow) source eliminates concerns about prions or BSE (mad cow disease) because there are no known porcine sources of prions. The glandulars come directly from animals inspected by independent veterinarians and raised for food consumption without chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones, pellet food, forced feeding, overcrowding, or any of the other inhumane methods often associated with commercial animal husbandry. The glandular tissues used in Adrenal Rebuilder have been processed to remove the hormones and steroids (a type of adrenal hormone) that may be naturally present in these glands. This formula provides natural building blocks that support optimal adrenal function so that the adrenal glands themselves can produce healthy amounts of the adrenal hormones as needed.

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Is Adrenal Fatigue Hereditary and Adrenal Fatigue & Irregular Heartbeat

Q. Can adrenal fatigue or stress cause an irregular heartbeat? Can it be fixed?

heart on stone by Flickr user epSos.de

Image credit: Flickr user epSos.de

Both stress and adrenal fatigue can cause irregular heartbeats, also known as arrhythmia. Stress can often cause tachycardia, or a faster than normal rhythm over 100 beats per minute. Adrenal fatigue can lead to high potassium and low sodium levels, which can interfere with the electrical signals that regulate heart rate.

If the irregular heartbeat is due to stress or adrenal fatigue, it can be corrected by reducing the stress or treating the adrenals and balancing electrolyte levels. However, there are many causes of arrhythmia including heart disease, thyroid problems, or taking certain drugs or cold medications. It is important to determine what is causing the arrhythmia and treat accordingly.

Q.  Is adrenal fatigue hereditary? If you suspect it in your teen daughter, should you get it checked? One of my doctors says it can be checked through bloodwork. Is that true? I have only had mine checked through saliva testing.

Adrenal fatigue is not hereditary, per se, but both genetics and environment can influence cortisol reactivity to stress. Yes, if you suspect adrenal fatigue in your daughter, test for it. Cortisol can be tested in the blood, but almost all serum (blood) cortisol is bound to protein. The body can’t use bound hormones. I prefer salivary levels because they represent “free” or unbound cortisol, the form that is actually available for use in the tissues. Also, cortisol levels change significantly throughout the day. Salivary tests make it easy to test cortisol levels four or more times in one day and determine the cortisol’s daily pattern.

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

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Adrenal Fatigue & Vision and How Long Does it Take to Recover from Adrenal Fatigue?

Question: What impact can adrenal fatigue have on vision? Is there a connection between adrenal fatigue and cataracts?

eye closeup by Flickr user Gregoire Lannoy

Image credit: Flickr user Gregoire Lannoy

The adrenal hormone cortisol is the body’s best anti-inflammatory. Because cortisol is low in adrenal fatigue, inflammatory eye conditions such as iritis, uveitis, and dry eyes can worsen with adrenal fatigue. Cataracts aren’t directly related to adrenal fatigue, but some people with lowered adrenal function or inflammatory conditions are prescribed glucocorticoids—synthetic drugs such as prednisone that mimic cortisol. These drugs can cause a particular type of cataract, a steroid cataract. In addition, these synthetic steroids have the possibility of increasing pressure in the eye which could predispose someone towards glaucoma.

Question: I’ve been off and on the protocol for a couple of years. When I stop it, I notice that the fatigue comes back, although not nearly as severe as it was years ago. Will I need to be on this for the rest of my life? Can I recover fully? Does the amount of time it takes to recover depend on the severity of the adrenal fatigue and how long it went untreated?

Good question: One of the biggest problems I encountered in my practice while working with patients with adrenal fatigue is that as they started to feel better, they would think that the supplements were no longer necessary. They would try and discontinue them too soon and then would be back in my office with the same problems as before. People vary in the time it takes their bodies to recover. Often, someone begins to feel better within a few weeks or months, but typically, it takes someone about 6-9 months to fully recover from mild adrenal fatigue, 12-18 months for moderate adrenal fatigue, and sometimes it can take 2 years or more to fully recover from severe adrenal fatigue. If you continue to be under extreme stress, you may need to support your body for a longer period of time. However, barring an extreme circumstance, you should not need to be on supplements that support your adrenals for the rest of your life.

Recovering from adrenal fatigue takes time, but it is possible. Good luck!

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

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The Adrenal & Thyroid Relationship and Mouth Infection & Adrenal Fatigue

Question: How much work do the thyroid and adrenal glands share, and how do they hand off their responsibilities?

The thyroid and the adrenal glands have different responsibilities, and don’t exactly “hand off” tasks, but they work closely together in the body. The thyroid has many functions, but is primarily concerned with controlling metabolism and calcium balance in the body. The adrenal glands secrete a large number of hormones, including stress hormones, sex hormones, and hormones which act to conserve sodium and increase blood pressure.

diagram of endocrine system male and femaleThere are numerous ways that the glands and their hormones impact one another. Because thyroid controls metabolism and how efficiently the body uses energy, it affects every other system and organ in the body. The adrenal glands impact the thyroid too. Rising levels of cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the adrenals) can decrease the production of thyroid stimulating hormone, thus decreasing thyroid hormone production. High levels of cortisol can also cause thyroid hormone to be converted to a weaker form, creating low thyroid symptoms.

Because of their relationship, both low adrenal function and low thyroid function can create fatigue, sluggishness, lowered sex drive, and depression.

Question: Do you think chronic infection from faulty root canals or general poor mouth health can be a contributing factor for developing adrenal fatigue?

Chronic infection or poor mouth health can absolutely be a contributing factor to the development of adrenal fatigue. The adrenals are the glands of stress, and so recovery from illness and infection—both of which are significant stressors—involves the adrenals. One of the primary functions of the adrenal hormone cortisol is to reduce inflammation. (This is why synthetic drugs that mimic cortisol are frequently prescribed for conditions with an inflammatory component.)

teeth by Flickr user Ewan BellamyIf you are harboring a chronic infection, your adrenals will continue to produce cortisol to try and limit excessive inflammation. The teeth and gums are common locations for this type of sub-acute chronic infection. If you have adrenal fatigue and are incorporating the dietary and lifestyle changes recommended in Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome and are using the recommended nutritional supplements but are not getting better, an underlying body burden such as chronic infection is likely. Work with a physician to try and identify the underlying cause. Sometimes laboratory tests showing changes in the white blood cell count (the immune cells responsible for fighting infections), an elevated sedimentation rate or high-sensitivity C reactive protein (markers of inflammation), or a low albumin (suggesting chronic disease) can be indicators of chronic infection or inflammation. There are other body burdens which can also tax the adrenals such as an imbalance in intestinal bacteria, the presence of food sensitivities, or chronic exposure to toxic chemicals, but sub-acute chronic infection is a commonly overlooked body burden and adrenal stressor.

Image Credits: Endocrine diagram via Wikimedia Commons; tooth photo by Flickr user Ewan Bellamy

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.

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